Has the world gone to premium seating?

From the editor

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BRAD SPENCER

While driving my very pregnant wife into the city last week for a doctor's appointment, we had an interesting conversation. I had missed the morning news; therefore, she considerately filled me in.

"Here's the weather," she began. "There was a tornado in Brooklyn, extreme heat has overtaken the south, the Midwest is flooding, and fires are sweeping through the west."

I nodded. "Sounds about right."

"Toxic toy recalls, mining disasters, bridge-design flaws, murders, maulings, mayhem," she faded out. She came back with, "There's nothing positive in the news except maybe for the sports."

Idiotically, I failed to ease her hormone-driven angst. "You mean steroids, dog torturing, and gambling?" mentioning just a few of the topics recently swirling around the sports world.

"Might as well just drive the car into the median," she joked.

"But can we eat first? I'm hungry," I countered.

You can let it discourage you, or you can laugh it away, or chock it up to the changing of the times. But that doesn't mean it will not make you as uncomfortable as watching a Viagra commercial with your grandmother.

For instance, I was briefly miffed when reading an e-mail recently about how Proviso West High School is now selling premium seating for its annual holiday basketball tournament. The press release reads, "The Proviso West Holiday Tournament will offer reserved seating for the first time in the 47-year history of the event ... Proviso West Sports Arena will have stadium style seating in the lower levels. The full lower level seatbacks are a one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art improvement not seen at any other on-campus high school facility in the Chicagoland area."

Proviso West Sports Arena? It's a high school gymnasium for crying out loud.

I'm all for upgrades and state-of-the-art anythings, but I initially felt this was wrong. Reserved seating for high school basketball games?

But after thinking about it a bit, I simmered.

For $50 you get to watch 28 games during the four-day tournament, and you get to do it in a reserved seat. Sounds like a pretty good deal. After all, the money can't go to the players-IHSA rules. So it must go back into the school. Why shouldn't high school sports be able to capitalize on pro sports' overindulgences? Yes, the snowball effect could take hold, and we could see anything from reserved parking to luxury suites in the future, but perhaps even that could be a good thing. I mean if fans were paying extra to sit comfortably at OPRF's fieldhouse, isn't it possible that our property taxes would go down?

I know, now I'm hallucinating.

Maybe it's just the hormones.

Contact: bspencer@wjinc.com

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